Stand with Planned Parenthood

Hang Nguyen of Santa Clara, right, Kathy Doerr, of Mountain View, center right, Ramil Batiancila, left, and Bernadette Batiancila, both of Fremont, pray in protest against abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Mountain View, Calif., Feb. 6, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

No matter how you feel about abortion, do not take it out on Planned Parenthood or its patrons. Don’t picket its buildings. Don’t harass its patrons. The men and women using these services are not guilty of anything other than being human. Planned Parenthood is not the enemy.

Planned Parenthood is where people go to get help. It is where women of all backgrounds can find a safe place. The multitude of services offered in education and healthcare help to facilitate a positive environment for men and women of all ages.

This is one of the few vestiges where women can go to feel empowered and be educated about their bodies. People like the Colorado Springs shooter are trying to take that away from women. Inherently female spaces are being threatened by extremists, like we saw in Colorado Springs last week when the suspect killed three people and injured nine with a semiautomatic rifle in a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

Call the shooter what he is – a domestic terrorist. He, and others like him who are criticizing an organization that’s focus is to help people, are contributing to a larger problem of ingrained misogyny.

One out of every five women has used the services at Planned Parenthood. Do you know five women? Imagine one of them was at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last week. Maybe she was there for a counseling appointment or getting a mammogram. She was coming for help, like all of the women who enter the doors of the clinic.

Planned Parenthood is a sanctuary. Women in need of pap smears or birth control can go there. The organization offers cancer screenings and STI tests and treatment to individuals. This is a place where people of any socioeconomic background can come to be helped.

Where would women go if Planned Parenthood closed its doors? Women all over Texas are facing this reality right now, as Texas continues to close clinics.

But let’s talk about the real reason that people are mad at Planned Parenthood – abortion services. These services make up less than 2 percent of the services at Planned Parenthood. This moral ambiguity is why three people died last week. There is no justifying the logic behind the act of the domestic terrorist. If individuals are mad that unborn lives are being ended, the answer is never to end more lives. But there is no logic with extremists.

This organization’s extensive sex education is the reason why so many abortions are prevented every day. We can all agree that we want fewer abortions in this world. But the means of doing that are flawed if the nation’s knee-jerk reaction is to ban all abortions. You will never change how people view the issue, one way or the other. What you can change is how educated people are about sexual health and reproduction.

You cannot have it both ways – people will always have sex. Abstinence-only education does not work. Ask Bristol Palin. What does work is teaching individuals about their bodies and their rights.

If you want fewer abortions, create better sex education programs. If you want fewer abortions, ban abstinence-only education in schools. If you want fewer abortions, build more Planned Parenthoods, because this is an organization that is constantly working to promote sexual and reproductive health and education. They are the reason that so many unwanted pregnancies have been prevented.

So have a more open mind to Planned Parenthood. Have an open heart to those who lost their lives in the pursuit of their inherent right to sex education and health.

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